Last week I presented an Epilepsy Assistant for my friend, Beth. The app would have a variety of features, including using the accelerometer to sense when she’s falling to the ground during a seizure and automatically call 911.
I’ve been plotting out a user map and journey for how Beth would experience the app. PLEASE excuse my terrible drawings. I swear I went to art school but it was a long time ago and I am RUSTY.
The user map was the most challenging. When referencing a map for booking a hotel, I became aware that Beth’s day-to-day experience is much more nuanced. I did reduce it down to, what feels like, a problematic repeating pattern for her. In which, she has a seizure, recovers and feels better, gets busy with school and returns to her normal behaviors of skipping doses of her medication and not getting enough sleep. These behaviors are not ideal and ultimately lead to another seizure and she repeats the process again.
The pain points were easy, as they’re what I started with before I conceived the app idea. However, it was difficult to reduce a very emotional experience down to a chart, but it does make it easier to visualize. I also found it challenging to surmise what her emotional experiences are without knowing what it’s like to have epilepsy. An insight I discovered, though was that when she uses this app, she will be very overwhelmed and distracted by grad school. This means, I’ll need to design around this. The barrier to entry must be low and usability must consider her emotional state. It would be counterproductive to stimulate her further, so simple, soothing, calming colors and typography. Headspace does this very well.
When I was with Beth last winter when she had her seizure, it was right after she recovered that we discussed why it had happened. I lived with her in college when she had them way more frequently. Stress, lack of sleep, and alcohol were big contributors. If she could barely get to bed on time, then how would she remember her medication? Again, this recovery period was spend reacting to what had just happened, but rarely proactively making changes to insure that it wouldn’t happen again. I find this time period to be a fruitful opportunity to educate and organize and help Beth feel more in control.
The user journey helped to highlight this period of downtime in which she is eager to avoid what she just experienced. Perhaps the app design can reference this emotional state of the user: frustration and exhaustion, but mixed with hope. The app experience should feel like a weight is being taken off the shoulders, like “I got you.”